Young Colin Thomas gave veteran Brad Gushue everything he could handle throughout their game Thursday before falling 7-5 at the 2013 Tankard provincial men’s curling championship at the Re/Max Centre in St. John’s.
The Gushue win left the Bally Haly rink, which includes Adam Casey, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker, as the only undefeated team going into today’s final two round-robin draws.
Gushue is 5-0, while Thomas and Andrew Symonds are tied in second at 4-1.
“They (Gushue’s rink) got the setup they wanted right from the start,” Thomas said of the 10th end, “and we didn’t get quite what we needed.
“We just tried to peel our way out and tried to get some long runbacks, but we just couldn’t make it.”
Thomas admitted to being “a little nervous” going into the game against the province’s most famous skip.
“You don’t get to play Brad Gushue every day, but I tried to keep my cool… at least on the outside,” said Thomas who added his entire rink responded well to the pressure.
The lead changed hands several times during the match between Gushue and Thomas.
Thomas jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two ends. Gushue tied it with a deuce in the third and took the lead with a single in the fourth end. Thomas regained the lead with a deuce in the fifth for a 4-3 advantage.
Gushue responded with a couple of points in the sixth end. The teams were tied 5-5 after seven ends and Gushue took a 6-5 lead into the 10th end and then stole one for the victory.
“It was good experience for our team,” noted Thomas. “I’m glad we got to play them in the round-robin to see what they’re all about.
“We proved we can take it to the final shot and still have a chance. Our main goal going into the game was to prove to ourselves that we can do this,” said Thomas, who added he’d love another shot at Gushue, hopefully in the final.
In other late draw games, Symonds earned his share of second place with a 12-3, five-end win over Brian Mercer; Jeff Thomas, Colin’s father, edged Ken Peddigrew 7-6 and Shawn Adams defeated Keith Ryan 9-4.
In the early draw, Gushue beat Mercer 9-2 in seven ends; Colin Thomas beat Adams 9-4; Peddigrew scored a five-ender in the seventh end to defeat Ryan 8-1 and Symonds defeated Jeff Thomas 8-5.
Draw 6 which is set for nine o’clock this morning features Adams vs Peddigrew; Symonds vs Gushue; Ryan vs Colin Thomas and Mercer vs Jeff Thomas.
The last round-robin draw is scheduled for 2 p.m. and includes Mercer vs Ryan, Jeff Thomas vs Colin Thomas; Adams vs Symonds and Gushue vs Peddigrew.
If there are any tie-breakers are necessary, they will be held seven o’clock tonight. Page playoffs, involving the top four teams, are set for 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday.
The championship game goes 1 p.m. Sunday.
The provincial winner will represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the Tim Hortons Brier March 2-10 at Rexall Place in Edmonton.